Home remedies for lice and nits

Lice and nits are the bane of families with children but can be tackled with home remedies

NOW that children are settled back into a new school year, parents and guardians are preparing to combat an age-old foe – the much-dreaded lice and nits.

These tiny pests cause havoc in classrooms and homes, with many adults thinking that the best way to tackle them is by using over-the-counter medicinal treatments.

However, these products contain insecticides and lice are reportedly becoming increasingly resistant to many of them. Also, getting rid of lice and nits once does not stop children from coming into contact with them again through classmates, so it can be handy to know how to make your family louse and nit-free using products you already have in your bathroom and kitchen. Continue reading “Home remedies for lice and nits”

Elderberry syrup – Mother Nature’s winter cold and flu fighter

Elderberry syrup
Elderberry syrup is Mother Nature’s recipe for helping fight off those winter-time colds


WE HAVE braced ourselves for cold and flu season by making a small but effective batch of elderberry syrup that is already being put to good use in our household.

Classrooms and offices are like incubators for bugs at this time of the year but we’re hoping to give ourselves a fighting chance by using the berry of the elder tree, which is found growing wild in many hedgerows, waste ground and established back gardens.

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Blackberries in buns – scrumptious!

blackberries in buns
Blackberries are a commonly available fruit used in traditional cures but they also make lovely buns

BLACKBERRIES are one of those universally-loved fruits because they are so accessible, growing wild on untouched hedgerows in fields and roadsides everywhere, and I want to share our highly adaptable recipe for scrumptious blackberry buns.

This glossy black fruit, otherwise known as rubus fruticosus in Latin, or sméara dubha to every Irish primary school child, has a long history of use in foods and medicines. The Greeks saw it as a treatment for gout and the Roman’s brewed a tea with bramble leaves.

The ancient Celts treated blackberries as a sacred plant and used the berries to make dark dyes, preserves and remedies.

Today, blackberries are known for their deliciousness but also their high Vitamin C content, and you’ll often find them in lots of recipes for healthy shakes etc.

Our blackberry bun recipe is what I’d call semi-healthy – it has plenty of nutritious ingredients, but it’s not entirely without sin!

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Harlequin killer targets native ladybirds, butterflies and moths

harlequin ladybird
Harlequin ladybirds pose a deadly threat to native insects, including other ladybirds and butterflies

OUR LADYBIRDS are bearing the brunt of humans’ short-sighted interference with nature leading to my family’s first encounter with the invasive harlequin ladybird.

The harlequin, or Harmonia axaridis, is a larger, more voracious type of ladybird that originated in Asia and was introduced to north America in 1988 to eat other insects that were considered pests.

But if you’re a fan of Sci-Fi movies, where humans think they have something under control, until they don’t, then you’ll be able to guess what happened.

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Mahon Falls – a littered treasure

Mahon Falls
It’s impossible to capture the beauty of Mahon Falls in a photograph but here’s the best I could do

MAHON FALLS is an awesome (I mean that in the original sense of the word) 80-metre waterfall that lies in the Comeragh Mountains, so I’m totally baffled as to why some visitors would dump rubbish there!

I took our girls Ava (11) and Becca (8) to the Falls this week as one of our planned day-trips over the school holidays, but we were all upset and disgusted to discover that the level of littering seems to have reached unprecedented levels this summer. Continue reading “Mahon Falls – a littered treasure”

Making sensible choices about food boosts your health and pocket!

Food waste
Salads are high on the food waste list but they are also relatively easy to grow in your own garden

FOOD WASTE costs the average Irish household EUR700 every year – that’s a whole load of cash to just chuck in the bin!

I’m trying to think about all the things I could do with that kind of money, like putting it towards a family holiday or sorting out something in the house (the front windows need painting) or the garden (there’s an endless list there).

Earlier this week, Becca (8) and I attended the launch of a Community Food Initiative by Ballyhoura Development in the Co Limerick village of Caherconlish, to discover how we could have more ‘food sense’ in the future, for the benefit of our family’s health and pocket.

Millennium Centre
Millennium Centre in Caherconlish, Co Limerick

The day, which included arts and crafts, facepainting, and child-friendly healthy treats, took place in the lovely Millennium Centre, which I thought was pretty fitting, seeing as how I was hoping it would help me guide our family to a new phase of smarter eating.

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Embracing my inner tree hugger!

One of our favourite year-round views is a large oak close to our home with a sunset backdrop

A VERY YOUNG OAK recently came into our lives and it got me to thinking that I need to embrace my inner tree hugger!

Our ‘patio’ hawthorn

That thought was reinforced this week after I ended up almost surgically pulling a tiny hawthorn from between the paving stones in our patio – it came out with roots intact and is now safely potted.

I think if everyone stopped to think for a moment, we all have a favourite tree, either from our past or our present.

My current favourite is a weeping beech that’s in our back garden – still too young to provide shade, but I’m hoping to watch our grandkids play underneath it in about 20 years or so, depending on our girls Ava (11) and Becca (8) of course!

So, our rescue missions involving the hawthorn (left), and the six inch oak, which was saved from being mowed along with this summer’s hay crop, seems like the perfect opportunity to write about the search for contestants in the Tree of the Year competition, and why it’s important to appreciate our trees.

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Glengarra Mountain Lodge revisited

Crowds return to Glengarra Mountain Lodge to see recent refurbishment work on the building

GLENGARRA Mountain Lodge is buzzing with life again as nature lovers find their way back to this scenic wildlife haven – thanks to ongoing restoration work by local volunteers!

We put on our sensible footwear and packed a picnic at the weekend to attend an open day hosted by Burncourt Community Council at the Co Tipperary shooting lodge-turned-hostel, which has lain empty in recent years.

The Mountain Lodge

The event had two purposes – firstly, to show the public how far the community had come in fixing the potentially devastating damage caused by vandals and thieves, and secondly, to remind us all that support was needed for the work still to be done.

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Handy tips for making your own eco-friendly cleaning products

eco-friendly cleaning
Forage in your food cupboards for eco-friendly cleaning products like lemons and olive oil

YOUR KITCHEN cupboards probably contain everything you need to create your own eco-friendly cleaning products – so you can make your home sparkle without using harsh chemicals.

If you have lemons, bicarbonate of soda (also known as bread soda or baking soda or bicarb), and vinegar, then you can tackle, bacteria, grime, grease, stains and even nasty smells!

You can even put olive oil to good use if you have favourite wooden furniture that requires a gentle touch.

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An otter? No, it’s an American mink!

American mink
The American Mink is not native to Ireland but is now found in every county

MY RECENT joy at having seen a native otter for the very first time was dashed when I realised that the animal I’d watched gliding along a local stream was probably an American mink!

I’m not the first person to confuse these two creatures – especially when a mink is wet, as mine was, but what was initially disappointment turned to a grim fascination as I read about the exploits of the mink since it arrived on our shores in the early 1950s.

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